Ima Robot

The fact that I own this album is a testament to the mega-media marketing machine: I saw California's Ima Robot perform on Letterman a few weeks ago, and that three-minute taste drove me to the record store to pick up their debut album. The high-energy performance of "Dynomite" on the band's network television debut featured lead singer Alex Ebert bouncing off his speaker monitors in true rock-star fashion, singing out in his piercing voice, which sounds like a cross between David Bowie and Robert Smith.

So what was it that enticed me at 12:28 that night? In a space usually reserved for the typical pop drivel, I heard the bastard child of new wave and punk, conceived during an orgy while psychedelic prog rock played loudly. Guitarist T. "The Terror" Anderson's power chords propel the band through the tracks, and a wide array of sound effects hijacked from a disco dance are supplied by Oliver Goldstein, who serves double duty on electronics, playing a drum machine for beats and keyboards for bloops and bleeps. Bassist Justin Meldal-Johnson and drummer Joey Waronker add experience to the group, having played with the likes of Beck in their pre-Robot days.

So what do you when all of music seems to be getting a bit stale? When commercial hip-hop is in an admitted state of disarray and every rock band on the radio sounds just like every other? Do what Ima Robot has done: Start with some charismatic players and add a couple of tried-and-true musical fads from the past and a futuristic attitude. Mix well, and start reaping the praise.

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